The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)
The controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) dealt with the regulation of the citizenship of refugees fleeing neighbouring states due to religious persecution. It ran into conspiracy accused of being a threat to secularism, further complicated by the uncertainties surrounding the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The ruling government had promised in previos election manifestos to offer Indian citizenship to members of persecuted religious minorities who had migrated from neighbouring countries. The amendment has been criticised as discriminating on the basis of religion, particularly for excluding muslims. The issue witnessed several protests, the protests have led to deaths of several protestors, injuries to police officers, damage to public and private propert and the Supreme Court received around 140 petitions on the issues, but it did not intervene. Some of the states announced that they would not implement the Act, however, the Union Home Ministry said that the state lacks the legal power to stop the implementation of the CAA.
Streaming Platforms and Online News under I&B Ministry
The government made an amendment to the Allocation of Business Rules through which online audio and video streaming services and online news and current affairs were place under the regulation of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has the power to regulate policies related to news, audio visual contents and films available on online platforms. Streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc will now be governed by the I&B Ministry headed by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar. This step of the government was considered to have a far-reaching consequences in the near future.
Permanent Commission to Women officers in Army
The bench of Supreme Court in its verdict said that the permanent commission in army shall also apply to women officers irrespective of their years of services. The Supreme Court upheld the judgement of Delhi High Court and said that refusal of consideration of women for criteria or command appointments is not permissible in law. The top court in its March 25 order had directed the Army to consider granting PC to the women Short Service Commission Officers subject to their obtaining 60% marks in the assessment subjects, being found fit on medical criteria and having received disciplinary and vigilance clearances. The Supreme Court had directed that within three months, all serving SSC women officers have to be considered for PCs irrespective of them having crossed 14 years or the case maybe, 20 years of services. This decision of the top court rejected the physiological limitations as being based on “sex stereotypes” and “gender discrimination against women”.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill
This bill on abortion was passed in the Lok Sabha. The bill increased the permissible time before which a lady can abort the child from 20 weeks to 24 weeks on consultation with two doctors. The bill insists on the operation being performed by doctors specialising in gynaecology or obstetrics. Several cases have been foiled before the Supreme Court and various High Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at stage beyond the 20 weeks limit under the Act, on the grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to rape faced by women. It also states that with the advancement of medical technology, there is a scope to increase the upper limit for terminating pregnancies especially for vulnerable women and in cases of severe foetal abnormality.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill
On December 25, 2021, the Surrogacy Regulation Act, 2021 received President’s assent in order to regulate the practice and process of surrogacy. The bill bans commercial surrogacy and lays down criteria and eligibility for women who may opt for the process. It widens the earlier definition to include an intending woman who is not married to opt for surrogacy as well. This bill prohibits the potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and to protect the rights of the children born through surrogacy. All known side effects and after effects of such procedures shall be informed to the surrogate mother concerned and also written informed consent of the surrogate mother to undergo such procedures in the language she understands is required to obtain.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021
In view of protests by a group of farmers and in order to take everyone together in the path of inclusive growth and development, the bill was introduced and passed to repeal the three farm laws passed by the parliament in September 2020. The Bill was introduce in Lok Sabha on November 29, 2021 by the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar. The Bill repeals the three farm laws passed by Parliament in September 2020. These are: (i) the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, (ii) the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and (iii) the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.
The High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021
The bill provides benefit of additional quantum of pension to a retired judge from the first day of the month in which he completes the age specified in the first column of the scale and not from the first day of hua entering the age specified therein as so interpreted by the High courts.
The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021
The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill was introduced in Lok Sabh on Decemvber 6, 2021. This bill was introduced to rectify the anomaly in section 27A of the Act by substituting clause (viiib) in place of clause (viiia) in section 27A with a view to have correct interpretation and implementation of the NDPS Act. The act regulates certain operations such as manufacture, transport and consumption related to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Persons found guilty of this offence will be punished with rigorous imprisonment of at least ten years and a fine of at least one lakh rupees.
The Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2021
This bill provides for extension of tenure of Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation by up to one year at a time in public interest, till the completion of five years in total including the period mentioned in the initial appointment.
The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021
The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 20, 2021. The Bill amends the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to implement certain electoral reforms.It provides linking of electoral roll date with the Aadhaar ecosystem to curb the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places.Th Bill adds that the electoral registration officer may require a person to furnish their Aadhaar number for establishing their identity.
The Dam Safety Bill, 2021
This bill provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of the specified dam for prevention of dam failure related disasters and to provide for institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.